HBO's The Idol sparks controversy over alleged "twisted" rewrites and The Weeknd's defense

New York, New York - Social media is buzzing after a shocking exposé revealed alleged on-set troubles and horrifying plot plans for HBO's upcoming show The Idol.

The Idol was co-created by Sam Levinson (l) and Abel Tesfaye (c), better known as The Weeknd. It also stars Lily-Rose Depp (r).
The Idol was co-created by Sam Levinson (l) and Abel Tesfaye (c), better known as The Weeknd. It also stars Lily-Rose Depp (r).  © Collage: VALERIE MACON / AFP & Frederic J. BROWN / AFP & Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The TV series, which follows a cult in the shadows of Los Angeles, is set to star Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, and Lily-Rose Depp in its leading roles.

A Rolling Stone article published Wednesday opened the floodgates for concern and criticism as inside sources came forward to spill the truth about the "sh*tshow" going on behind the scenes.

The original plan for The Idol was apparently tossed aside after Euphoria creator Sam Levinson boarded the project following director Amy Seimetz's exit. What was said to once be a female-driven story of a young star escaping a horrific cult then became "a degrading love story" that has led many members of the production team to speak out against it.

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"It was like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show — and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better," a crew member told the magazine.

The Weeknd attempted to clap back at the report with a clip from the series in which the characters bash the magazine, captioned, "Rolling Stone did we upset you?"

The exposé and Tesfaye's defensive response have reignited furor against Levinson's work in Euphoria and sparked concern about this latest project, as the singer has also gotten some heat.

Fans call out The Idol creator Sam Levinson's questionable work

Sam Levinson (r) is known for creating HBO's Euphoria starring Zendaya.
Sam Levinson (r) is known for creating HBO's Euphoria starring Zendaya.  © Amy Sussman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Rolling Stone's piece details significant delays in The Idol's production as well as the frustrations of many employees involved towards the lack of transparency about the version of the series that will make it to the air.

Earlier reports also indicated that Tesfaye had issues with the "female perspective" used in the show, leading to more focus on his character instead.

The notion, in combination with claims that proposed plot ideas from Levinson were described by sources as "sexual torture porn," have led to renewed discussions about misogynistic storytelling and Euphoria.

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Euphoria is notorious for its gratuitous sexual content, most of which involves underage characters. A number of actors involved said they pushed back against Levinson about their characters' nudity in the show.

Speculation also continues to surround actor Barbie Ferreira's abrupt exit from the HBO show amid rumors of on-set feuds with Levinson.

"The Euphoria crew is miserable too and everyone's known that for a long time but no no don't boycott the show because glitter makeup and teenage trauma porn as adult entertainment is way more important," one user tweeted.

Per Rolling Stone, Levinson's takeover as director of The Idol led to a jump in "disturbing sexual content and nudity" that looked to "surpass" that of Euphoria.

It's unclear whether the controversy over the report will impact The Idol at all, and a release date for the series has not yet been confirmed.

Cover photo: Collage: VALERIE MACON / AFP & Frederic J. BROWN / AFP & Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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